Expect No Mercy.

Does anyone have a handle on how much oil is flooding the Gulf right now?

I scoured the Herald articles today and they seem to be adopting uncritically the “official” 5000 barrels estimate, which equates to 210,000 gallons a day. (This means we will have surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill by mid-June if left unchecked.)

The NYT, however, is reporting potentially higher numbers:

BP told members of Congress the rate could be much, much higher:

In a closed-door briefing for members of Congress, a senior BP executive conceded Tuesday that the ruptured oil well could conceivably spill as much as 60,000 barrels a day of oil, more than 10 times the estimate of the current flow.

A barrel of crude oil contains roughly 42 gallons. In a follow-up story, the Times talked to a BP spokesman for more on the estimate:

“The rate could go up to that,” Mr. Suttles of BP said, when asked to verify a report in The Times. “It’s not the situation we have at this moment, but it’s not impossible.”

What are we doing about it? They’re working on a “top-hat” maneuver that I admit got me a little bit excited:

the “top hat” will be warmed with hot water and injected with methanol….

Sounds intriguing but kids, don’t try that at home.

In related news, Governor Crist has appointed former AGs Bob Butterworth and Jim Smith to head up a legal team, presumably to sue the pants off culpable parties:

Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum announced Monday that the state is assembling a special legal team to give free legal counsel on the situation.

The team is to be led by former attorneys general Bob Butterworth, who led the state’s lawsuit against tobacco companies in the late 1990s, and Jim Smith, who was attorney general from 1979 to 1987.

“We would hope at the end of the day that there would be no litigation,” Butterworth snickered (oops!) said in a brief afternoon press conference. “But we have to be prepared.”

Speaking of Big Bill, the NYT picks up swlip’s “existence tax” argument and looks at how McCollum forum-shopped so he was certain to draw a Republican-appointed judge (he drew Judge Vinson):

The state’s Northern District includes a courthouse in Tallahassee, six blocks from Mr. McCollum’s office. But Mr. McCollum instead filed the case 200 miles away in Pensacola, bypassing a Tallahassee judge who was named by President Bill Clinton and ensuring that the judge would be a Republican appointee.

Bob Norman: welcome to Broweird!

Finally, RIP Frank Frazetta.